This is the summer of salads! I've been making lots of main dish salads for lunch and dinners this summer because of the heat and because come summer time, I often find myself dreaming up new, interesting, and different salad concoctions that I love to try out. This one came from a craving for grilled pineapple. Grilling pineapple just makes a sweet pineapple that much sweeter, and with the addition of a little smokiness from the grill it adds a great sweet and smokey dimension to a grilled chicken salad. The chicken gets flavor from a delicious pineapple juice marinade and the pineapple ginger vinaigrette is different, delicious, and addictive. I found myself making it again and again and putting it on my plain old salads all week long to perk them up. Don't like chicken breast? you can easily make this with boneless chicken thighs or london broil instead- both would taste great with the marinade and go really well with the other components as well. Some cilantro and scallions for freshness and cashews for crunch and you've got yourself the perfect summer salad. Enjoy!
For the chicken and pineapple:
4 chicken breasts
3/4 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tsp fresh chopped ginger
3 Tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 a fresh pineapple, cut into slices
Mix all the ingredients for the marinade in a ziplock bag and add the chicken breasts. Let the chicken marinate for 3-4 hours. Grill the chicken for 5-6 minutes per side until done. Grill the pineapple along side the chicken for 4-5 minutes per side.
For the salad:
1 1/2 cups quinoa (any color or a mix of colors is fine)
2 3/4 cups water
1/3 cup fresh chopped cilantro
3 scallions, sliced
1/2 cup salted and roasted cashews
Rinse the quinoa well under running water. Place in a pot with some salt and pepper and the water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let cook about 15 minutes until the water is absorbed. Keep pot covered for 5 minutes then uncover and fluff the quinoa as you would with rice. Let the quinoa cool slightly.
Cut the grilled pineapple, and chicken and mix into quinoa. Add the cilantro and scallions and drizzle the vinaigrette over it all. Top with cashews and serve.
For the vinaigrette:
1/2 cup fresh diced pineapple
2 tsp fresh coarsely chopped ginger
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons canola or light olive oil
salt and pepper
Place all ingredients except the oil into a food processor. Once the ingredients are mostly smooth start drizzling in the oil until it emulsifies together. Taste to make sure there is enough salt and pepper and serve over the salad.